For the month of September, Bustle’s Sex TBH package is talking about sex, honestly. We’re delving into how women approach the things they’re taught to be shy or embarrassed about in the bedroom — and, in doing so, we’re liberating people to live their best (sex) lives. Let’s do it.

I am surrounded by sex toys. Not just figuratively, as someone who covers them for work, but also literally. There are toys to my left, right, in four huge boxes next to my desk, and in my filing drawers. Oh, and there’s also one in my vase because I’m running out of room here. Four years ago, before I became a sex and relationships editor, I never would have guessed I’d be fenced in by sex toys — at that point I’d never even touched one before.

I wasn’t ever opposed to them back then, but they weren’t really on my radar. My friends never spoke about sex toys, even though we talked about sex all the time. And aside from seeing them on Broad City or Sex and the City, I really had no points of reference. (I later learned how hard it is for sexual wellness companies to have any sort of presence on social media due to strict, sex-negative policies.)

I was also slightly intimidated — especially by the plastic, phallic ones or the large massagers that looked like power tools I didn’t want anywhere near my bed. Until I started researching, I didn’t realize how many innovative products there are, and how you can find ones that can completely fit your body, desires, and aesthetic — and even your taste in jewelry.

I also ignorantly thought I didn’t “need” them. I was able to get off fine solo, and what I thought was often enough during sex. I had no idea how much toys would end up teaching me about my body, or that the sensations they’d provide would be unlike anything I’d experienced before. I also later learned how beneficial they’d be with a partner. Previously, whenever I didn’t orgasm with a partner, I figured it was because I couldn’t focus, not because I needed more stimulation, as most women do. “Vibrators kind of level the playing field for women in the bedroom,” Claire Cavanah, co-founder of Babeland, tells Bustle. “A lot of women really need the consistent stimulation on their clitoris to have the same experience as men have.”

Click here to read them all!